By Joe Guzzardi
April 3, 213
Suddenly but predictably, the ugly underbelly of the Gang of Eight’s proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill has been exposed. The legislation will be hundreds of pages long and, if it ever becomes law, will create 11 million new legal permanent residents. Unemployed Americans will have to compete with once unemployable aliens for jobs; taxpayers will fund their benefits. In 2006, the final draft of similar immigration legislation totaled nearly 120,000 words, was as thick as the Bible and would have taken more than 24 hours to read.
Legislation of this magnitude deserves a full hearing and a slow, purposeful analysis if the Senate expects to win Americans’ trust and acceptance. Instead, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy rudely rebuffed a written request from his colleagues Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Gang of Eight member Marco Rubio (R-FL) for a transparent process. Rubio wants a robust floor debate, Conference Committee deliberations in “full view of the American people, broadcast on CSPAN and streamed live on the Internet.” Sessions called for an immigration policy that “helps Americans.”
Leahy flatly refused and said that he would proceed with “deliberate speed.” Translated, Leahy means that he intends to ram amnesty through the Judiciary Committee over whatever objections others in Congress or American citizens may have.
As an example of Leahy and the Gang’s determination to stifle the democratic process, they also emphatically turned down a request from the union that represents 7,600 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to be included in the talks. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), another of the eight, disingenuously justified Leahy’s decision when he said: “We’re not meeting with any groups.” The Senate negations started behind closed doors and apparently will conclude behind closed doors.
While Leahy and his allies were subverting the legislative process, another from the gang, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was home spreading self-serving deceits. As he toured Columbia, S.C., Graham promised that amnestied aliens would go through a “long” and “challenging” path to “get right with the law,” in which they will have to pay back taxes, learn English and go to the back of the line. In 1986 when the Immigration Reform and Control Act passed, all of Graham’s same promises were made and, as they will be this time, all were broken.
Looking back, former Rep. John Hostettler, the Indiana Republican who in 2003 chaired the subcommittee on immigration, border security and claims, said the problem with IRCA was that it allowed legalization before measures were in place to enforce immigration restrictions and to punish those who violated immigration laws.
“Time showed us that IRCA has utterly and completely failed,” Hosteletter said. “Illegal immigration has not been controlled, but has increased significantly in the past two decades.” The current Senate proposal would grant amnesty to four times as many immigrants as the 1986 legislation. Worse, since the Obama administration first hinted at amnesty after his re-election, border crossings from Mexico have doubled.
When it comes to amnesty, Vatican-like secrecy is the Senate’s preferred way. In 2006, the Senate debated the same illegal immigration issues but, then as now, didn’t invite debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted a vote within a week after the bill dropped and threatened a cloture vote to cut off a possible filibuster.
The Senate can’t exercise due diligence on major immigration legislation without extensive hearings. But, the Gang’s goal is to keep the public in the dark for as long as possible and with good reason. Once the bill’s details, which will include immediate amnesty and eventual citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, see the light of day, it will have little chance to survive.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]